Carla M. Brown Speaker

Try Breaking the Ice Like This…

  • niceice

Ever been on an ice rink?  With ice skates?  It can be challenging.  Ever been on an ice rink, without ’em?  They have.  Don’t worry.  They didn’t desecrate the rink, we made sure to get permission.  Invited to a private party, these boys took advantage of a rare opportunity to do the unexpected.  While there was a previously determined mode of operation, they struggled a bit.

But while many others went with the standard, they broke out of their comfort zones and considered the possibilities.  What a way to break the ice! What transpired next could be only be categorized as relentless excitement; pint-size, but pleasant pandemonium – and an adventure to remember.

So often, we find ourselves in situations that may be foreign.  Perhaps, your background is not the same as your peers or associates.  There are certain elements that you recognize, but maybe you struggle a bit.  Perhaps your challenge lies in the fact that you haven’t considered the possibilities beyond face value.  Maybe there’s another way you could look at it, that would still give you the leverage to excel.

Am I saying break the rules?  No.  I’m saying, explore your options.  Think differentlyPursue diligentlyStrategize incessantly.  Sometimes it’s not asking questions that matters.  It’s the questions that you ask!

I enjoyed a wonderful conversation with a friend on yesterday whom I’ve known since elementary.  He’s a passionate, prolific family man who has a wonderful career and a beautiful wife and children.  While he’s done considerably well in his profession, he’s pursuing another lifelong passion that he placed on a back burner while life happened.

Unregretful of his decision to table it earlier, he’s now ready to pick it up and move forward. So he’s preparing!  My favorite part?  He’s conditioning himself mentally for his new pastime/future career in a manner parallel to how he prepared himself as a middle school, high school and college athlete.  He’s molding his mindset.

He’s allocating designated time to dedicate to the development of his craft.  He’s researching, studying and practicing for perfection…because he has an end goal in mind.  I’m convinced he’s going to get there…because he’s not afraid to step out of his comfort zone and get on the rink with an approach that perhaps others – haven’t seen yet.

If you take a moment to consider success stories you’ve seen and heard, rarely do they achieve the unthinkable by majoring in the mundane.  They think differently.  They pursue diligently.  They strategize incessantly.   I’m positioning myself to do the same in order to catch my dream.  Are you ready to catch yours, too?  Break the ice…and Leap with Me.  Adventures await… #imsmiling

#pursueyourpassion, #betheone, #catchyourdreams, #Leap2017, #breaktheice

Caption:  Brown Boys shattering the status quo.  Mommy Brown to follow suit…

 

 

 

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Don’t Stop Here…

dont-stop

It was a clear message.  Beautifully adorned.  Simply written.  Unable to be misinterpreted.  You were not to park in this designated space.

It didn’t pertain to me so much, as I wasn’t driving.  I was on my sabbatical – walking, perusing, relaxing, but as always…deeply thinking.  And as I stared at the sign, I had “A Beautiful Mind” moment, where I saw less of what was immediately in front of me and more the analogous layers of complexity that nestled beneath this sign.

“No Parking” for me holds a different message.  It’s an admonition for those who are going into the upcoming year with all of the baggage that weighted them down in months prior.  It’s a declaration for others who are planning to be sidelined because of obstacles they’ve encountered and battles they’ve already conceded.

It’s an expectation for those who are determined to realize unachieved goals.  It’s a declaration to those they insist on bringing along.  Their encouragement is for more than themselves, and they won’t allow the naysayers to be the dreamslayers.

As I hear about (what seems like) another death everyday, I cannot help being thankful for each breath of life.  The year is not yet over, and there are many who still won’t see 2017.  Who’s to know who will be counted in that number?

But if it isn’t you or me, then what?  What do we do with the precious lives we have left to live?  Spend it wisely!  Live it loudly!  Do what we love the most!

Among my self-determined expectations is to ensure that I submit to “No Parking” in areas where I need not stay put.  I won’t park in depression, dismay, delusions nor disdain.

I’m not going to park anywhere that’s going to deter me from my focus, shifting my energy to draining instead of gaining.  I am going to plow forward; work fervently; learn greatly and fight passionately.

Reflectively, 2016 has certainly been the most trying of my life.  I’ve cumulatively lost some of my greatest loves, which has shaken  me to my core.  And unforeseen obstacles in people and places have also left me spinning, shocked at how calamity can be so rampant in what was perceived to be community.

I’ve hurt in ways that I didn’t know was possible, often angry at myself for having human emotions.

Nevertheless, I will not wallow.  I will not wish.  I will want it (my dreams) badly enough to make it happen, and when I can’t find the way I want, I will find another way, like so many amazing achievers before me.

I will draw from the strength of those who loved me most, and  I will listen to what my family, friends, readers, and clients need before I consider what I’ll say.

I am confident that as I Leap into 2017, there’ll be no idling for me.  Time is of the essence.

Let’s get ready for this road trip.  Where are you going?  Send me a map.

#noparking, #joinmeonthejourney, #journalchallenge, #catchyourdreams, #pursueyourpassion, #betheone

 

Caption:  A reminder that I’m scheduled to ride a road to remember.

Sometimes, I Forget… Learning to Love Again

me

I wish I could say, “I can do it all.”  I’d like to.  I’d like to know it.  To see it. To have it.  To make it.  To sing it.  To write it.  To say it.  To play it.  To create it, find it, feel it.  And maybe even fake it.  And sometimes – I can…  Because…I’m a fixer.  I think I’ve been tasked by the Lord to fix every problem known to man – because if I could just find the solution, life would be better for everyone.  Or at least that’s what I’d like to believe… Sometimes.

But, what I’ve learned when I sink back down into my reality of life on Earth, is that not only am I unable to fix everything – I am actually guilty of the unthinkable sin – forgetting.  I forget that in my humanity, I will make mistakes, more often than I prefer and in the times that I’d wish I could make them go away the most.  I forget that even if I sometimes feel invincible, life can go on in my absence.  I forget that when I don’t pull it together, it affects the ones I love the most.

I forget that my minor mistakes will not turn the corporate world upside down.  I forget that some people who say wonderful things about me are only pretending, and I should get over my hurt feelings quickly, because those people are everywhere I go.  I forget that people I love may hurt me by accident, but I must still love them on purpose.

Here lately, I’ve forgotten some things that were more important.  I forgot to remember to chase what I love…

I forgot that in the midst of doing a good job at my job, and doing a good job for my family, and a good job for my friends and a good job for my students and a good job for my clients, to do a good job at remembering me.  And so I’ve watched the dreams that I’ve been attempting to catch, almost wash away.  That was scary.  I forgot to love me.

I forgot, what I loved…because I haven’t made the time to love it the way I used to.

Time up.

So I’ve decided that instead of losing myself in the world-of-being-overwhelmed, I’m going to lose myself instead – in love.  In the people I love.  The things I love.  The places I love.  In loving myself…and the One who loves me most.

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Every time I learn that someone has “passed on,” I am reminded of how fragile and temporary our lives are here.  Losing my dad…has still hurt me the most, to date.   I know I can’t stop myself from losing anyone else, as everyone has their appointment with Him.  But knowing our lives are limited, it makes me want to love more, and deeply; meaningfully; genuinely.  Because if I don’t, my opportunity to express – or feel – that love, may go away.

So here are my tips and tidbits.

  1. Celebrate every sunset.  Cherish every cloud.  No two are the same.  You should treasure them both – and everything that is equally beautiful!
  2. Say, “I love you,” whenever you can.  You may think they know it, but you don’t say it nearly as often as you should.  It feels so much better to hear it.
  3. Forget about the expensive things.  They’re nice, but overrated.  Remember that things that are unique to the ones you love are the most special of all.  Show them that you thought about them so much, that what you’re sharing wouldn’t be special to anyone else except them.
  4. And lastly, remember that love isn’t just for the person you date or marry.  You have more relationships than you know.  Show everyone you love how much you love them.  It will last for a lifetime.

I know who I love the most…and I’m so glad, they love me.

#thankyou, #catchyourdreams, #inloveagain, #learningtolovemelikeilovethem

Picture:  Remembering one of the many things I love… #thebeautyofnature

May He Wash Away All His Fears…

Cleanse

So I’ve been purging.  Sometimes, cleaning various rooms, making the hard decision to separate myself from student papers that are older than some of my children; parting with items that I can no longer validate holding on to; removing relics that I recognize my husband was right in gently sharing with me that they were fairly purposeless and collecting dust, and for very brief moments – trying to soak in some sun, celebrating the most beautiful days, when the heat is not unbearably sweltering.

I’m still working like a queen bee, hovering over countless tasks, enjoying the work.  I’m thrilled about new ideas, blossoming relationships and enthused clients, but I’m still trying to remember balancing business with bolstering memories.  It’s been challenging; in part because the media of late has swirled with realities that I find heart wrenching, and while I want to remain informed, I toil with severing my connection to the tube.  I feel it has betrayed me, offering me more opinions and slanted views than facts and fairness.

Nevertheless, irrespective of my entrepreneurial priorities, I was easily compelled to shut down my office the day after I received my own earth shattering news:  my three year old was going on his first field trip…to Discovery Green.  It was time to celebrate.

Interestingly, when I allow myself to submerge beneath the surface of conversational courtesies and pleasant exchanges of political rhetoric, I engage in quite a bit of self-talk.  I ask myself reflectively for answers that sometimes remain unearthed.  More importantly, I consider the impact of the world in which we live, or rather the decisions we’re making while in it.  And in my queries of how deeply I’m affected, I find myself consistently turned towards those who’ll remain long after we’re gone.  Our children.

It reminds me of countless things, but I’m opting to share a few – some out of mere adoration and others, out of unspoken obligation. Acutely aware that you may find a connection from a vantage point that I’ve not considered at all, it is my hope that my thoughts will at least tickle your fancy, and if not, then perhaps you will still find something for your enjoyment.

That being said, I am reminded first of the purity of love.  Amazing, isn’t it?  That it comes in so many shapes and sizes?  That we can love our spouses; our children; our siblings; our parents; our families; our friends; our pets; our passions.  That it is encompassed in a word so simple, but espouses such emotional depth…it leaves me speechless.

I watched three of my four boys (as the youngest turned four months last week) with incessant affection as they ran through the cooling waters that cascaded over their soft, brown skin.  And all I could think about was how much I loved them.

I think they loved…getting wet; the carelessness of their disposition.  The fact that they had no responsibilities, requirements, regrets, rebuttals.  They were enjoying the soothing spheres of liquid joy and savoring the signs that pleasure was plenty.  And I was elated.

For a moment, I also remembered the plausibility of pain.  I jumped just a bit if they got too close to someone else’s child, hoping there would be no unnecessary confrontations.  I worried that they might stumble or fall on the concrete beneath the water and injure themselves badly.

I was anticipating their disappointment when I’d tell them we’d have to go, knowing they would stay until the park had closed if they could.  I  worried that despite my best efforts, they’d still want to do more than the fun-filled day I’d already planned.  And then I thought a bit more broadly.

I thought about the confrontations I couldn’t guarantee they wouldn’t have – in life.  Not because of how they look, but really because of what they are – human.  And as humans, we will always have conflict.

I thought about the obstacles and incidents that I won’t be able to protect them from years from now.  I thought about when they’ll fall, and I won’t be able to pick them up.  And I won’t be able to hold their hand.  And I won’t be able to kiss their knees or rub their broken hearts, or make the pain go away.  And I felt – scared.  And helpless.  And vulnerable.

But  I also remembered, what my husband and I are teaching them.  I know what we believe.  I know in Whom we trust and how far His reach extends beyond what we could ever understand.  And that comforts me greatly.  Quite frankly, I don’t think I could have peace without Him – because I don’t have all the answers.  And as much as I’d like to be Superwoman, sometimes I think I have more kryptonite than kudos.

I have no idea what will be the future of my Final Four Brown Boys…but I have high hopes and great expectations, whatever their choices may be.  I know life will have its share of obstacles, and I’ll endeavor to do my best to help them through each and every one; but when I can’t, I will pray.  And when I can, I will still pray…because I believe we should pray without ceasing (smile).

And I hope that the love and patience and kindness with which we’ve raised them will wash over their fears of tomorrow.  Moreover, I hope that what they’ve learned from us, they will inherently share – and change the lives of others with the faith that moves mountains.

I savor everyday that they linger in innocence, and I hope they take their liquid joy and let it rain over their future.  I think we could all benefit from more of this kind of rain.  It’s time to use it to raise a generation that recognizes what we need most…

Caption:  When loving and laughter are pure and simple. #itstimetocleanseourminds

#catchyourdreams, #betheone, #pursueyorpassion, #cleanseyourmind

 

Chi Eta Phi: Nurturing New Millennium Nurses

Chi Eta Phi

#flashback – I remember lying on my back in the parking lot.  I remember two liquids flowing from my body, blood and tears.  As I peered in the sky at the stars that would have otherwise been beautiful, I wanted only to hear the soothing tones of my mother’s voice.  I was initially too shaken to even remember her number; but, the school volunteer I’d seen on so many occasions before was now comforting me on the abrasive asphalt.  She whispered, “I heard you screaming from across the street – and I came – because I’m a nurse.

She was one of many nurses who touched my life in ways that are ingrained in my conscience as I’ve marveled at the miracles they espouse every day.  Nurses are as often superstars as they are unsung heroes, triumphing with many feats that are too frequently uncredited and inconceivably amazing.   We’ve all had the pleasure of meeting them as a rather regular part of our care, both practical and probable, but do we give these visits much thought?  Sometimes, it depends on how severe our need is.

For the vast majority of us, our introduction to the world was facilitated by a nurse.  Our regular care first begins with a nurse.  If we need round the clock care, there will be a team of nurses.  In fact, the largest percentage of healthcare and the ones who interact with patients the most are nurses.  Their assessments undergird physicians’ decisions.  Nevertheless, they have one of the broadest realms of misconceptions about their field as compared to their contemporaries.  Can – and should that be changed?  Yes and yes.

Enter Chi Eta Phi Nursing Sorority.  #flashforward – At a recent speaking engagement (for nurses), I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer, Ebony, and Atyu (pictured above) proudly representing one of Houston’s most exciting organizations.  Their smiles and personalities were as bright as their signature colors.  Grounded in tradition and led by innovation, this historically rich body of professionals puts caring for the community at the forefront of its objectives by nurturing the next generation of nurses.

Who’s nurturing them?  Seasoned trendsetters who still have a passion for the profession, like Linda Tellison, National (Chapter) Organizer.  She travels the country, facilitating the development of new chapters, compelling the confident and the competent to join the ranks.   It’s a quality that leaves me enamored with their drive.

That fervor couldn’t come at a better time, because built on a Baby Boomer Generation – nurses will lose nearly half their force within just a few short years – because so many will be retiring.   Combine this notion with an aging population of Baby Boomers, and that means more people will need greater amounts of care.  So that wait time you may loathe?  With more patients – and less nurses – it will be even longer and could likely affect your quality of care.

Nursing is not about running behind physicians.  Menial tasks.  Little white hats and bringing the occasional pill.  It boasts an invigorating industry with wide ranging variety to impact lives in neo-natal units, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, geriatrics, operative services, hemodialysis, cardiology, neurology, emergency rooms, psychiatry, clinics and wellness centers, educational institutions, research centers, court rooms, private practices, executive conference rooms, in the military – across the globe…and these are just a few.  Additionally, it offers longevity, exceptional benefits, career mobility and a sizeable income.

I’ve met countless individuals who have mistaken me for a nurse since then, not because they’ve seen me in the halls of a hospital or providing patient care, but because I’m enamored with the superstars of their profession and advocate and recruit for them at every opportune moment.  I worked for a nurse, and with many nurses in both hospitals and clinics.  It was former Chief Nurse Executive, Mary Holt Ashley, Phd, RN, CNAA, BC, who first made me aware of my nursing misconceptions – and transformed my perspective about the gifts they bring to the patients who need them most.

At the times when I’ve felt the most vulnerable, physically helpless, emotionally spent and deathly afraid, I remember my encounter with a nurse.

I remember the one who held my hand and told me to breathe as a large needle was inserted into my spine in a cold room; the one who brought me warm blankets before my entire body was threaded through a machine in which I was immobilized; the one who gently rubbed the back of my hand while a painful incision was made for the fourth time in the same place, and the one who told me that even though I couldn’t see the baby anymore, I’d see the baby again.

Nursing is a profession of the most talented, patient, brave and brilliant individuals I’ve ever known.  Balancing complexity and care, they are at the helm of the healthcare profession – despite what denigrating images may depict in the media.  I’m on a personal journey to publicize their laudable actions because we need more new nurses like them to care for us – and our families.  It’s an international emergency.

So if you’re looking to pursue a passion where your compassion can catalyze a new lease on life, look no further than the field of nursing.  It’s just – what the nurse – ordered (smile).  Thank a Nurse today…

Happy Nurses Week

#pursueyourpassion, #bethe1, #nursesrock, #chietaphi, #maryholtashley, #lindatellison

Picture:  Nurses I’d love to see as a patient.  Congrats Chi Eta Phi!

My Final Four – Boys, Blessings, & Big Dreams

A Growing Gift

Amidst my former hope of joining #teampink, I finally delivered my fourth (and final) healthy boy – and I am elated. I’m still wrapping my mind around the idea of being in the house with five males; glaring at the toilet seat that is still up at times when I want it to be down; trying to ignore the waning desire for tea parties and tiaras and yet cherishing the throne that remains all my own as the reigning Queen (smile).

What sticks out most however, is that I am thankful.  Like any parents, there have been days when I longed for the serenity that comes with an empty house.  I’ve joked often with my friends and told them my favorite day (pre-Jonathan Paul [the newborn]) was haircut day, because all of the “boys” were gone.  With such an active household, it’s nice to have peace – and to be able to enjoy a dessert alone – something rarely done in a home full of foodies!

Admittedly, I’ve cringed at the rough-housing inherent with little men.  I’ve fussed about broken trinkets and misplaced socks and shoes.  Nevertheless, I’m filled with reflection of what it means to have a family, as I find myself nostalgically immersed in the magic that is motherhood all over again;  but, sometimes, I find it bittersweet.  Why?  Because I see it in so many contexts now.

I consider the baby I lost that will never be forgotten.  I’m acutely aware of the anguish that comes with parenthood – and not being perfect at it.  I’m pained by the hard lessons you watch them learn that you wish they didn’t have to, seeing their missteps with each turn they make, and I am grieved by the tragedies that befall other parents that are simply inconsolable (and there are far too many of those lately).  Each and every element reroutes me to the bliss of being a mom.

I hear parents with empty nests tell me, “Oh baby enjoy them while you can.  They won’t be young forever.”  I realize, unsurprisingly, they are so right!  I laugh about my comparative experience with my first son, now 11, and I almost want to tell the clock to rewind so I could do it all over again.  He’s going to middle school next year, and I’m not ready.  Like many, I’ve put baby pictures side by side, marveling at the similarities and doting on the differences. I’m ultimately thrilled that they’re all healthy, happy, and whole.

I remind myself often of the games I’ve been to; their pivotal moments and fondest experiences, and I’ve endeavored to savor everyone.  Because having gone to more funerals than I would have ever imagined so early in the year -the hardest being my father’s; being blown away by the iconic things my brother has been sending me from the 70s and 80s era that we adored as kids and being thrown back into history with the loss of celebrity greats – I’m proverbially reminded…that our families…are priceless.

*                  *                *                  *             *                  *                *                  *

I dream.  I hope to create legacies that my children can embrace, espouse, and extol.  When my today becomes their yesterday, I want them to recall it with a fondness that would warm the hearts of their great-grandchildren.  I want them to remember the laughter at our dinner table; the feel of their father’s calves as they wrapped around them with their whole little bodies; what it was like to sing and dance in front of the TV with their brush-turned microphones and horrible Michael Jackson impersonations.

I dream that the love that we’ve worked so hard to impart – on their best days and their worst – will flow through them fluidly, not only to their children, but in the form of kindness to others – as they share their faith, their convictions, their fervor and their friendship.

I dream that my boys will share an inseparable bond – a kinship that makes them as much brothers as they are friends – that they will know that what they had with their family is unlike any treasure they’ve ever known, rivaled only by the love of God.

I dream that each reader of this post will not only share in the joy that our family has, but will remember how important it is to treasure – and make right, if you haven’t already – the relationships in families of their own. Life is a gift.  We seldom take advantage of all it has to offer.  While it’s too short to be angry, we wait too long to rectify what’s wrong.  Remember to live life to the fullest, and love the ones who love you most.  Don’t forget, we’re the models for the tiniest of all.  Dream big.

Love, Carla

Caption: Feeling full with my Final Four – and thanking Him for the gift of each and every one.

#pursueyourpassion, #catchyourdreams, #bethe1, #dreambig, #loveispriceless

 

Search, Seize, Savor: Rekindle Your Professional Passion

Search and Seize

When I walked into the room, I couldn’t help but gasp at the pillow that looked dipped in chocolate.  Subtly accented by the accompaniment behind, it seemed to be espoused by a billow of rose petals tied together with care, further accented by silk and satin that begged to be adored.  My then co-worker was giving us a tour of her cute and quaint condo, both simply and elegantly designed – and with every corner that I turned, I was increasingly delighted.  It was divine!

What I didn’t know is that the expert I’d spent so much time with in our profession on a day to day basis was secretly in love with a completely different industry – interior design!  Her face was luminescent as she begin to describe how her passion for perfection with every home essential began when she was a little girl.

As a frequent traveler with military parents, she’d marinate for days on exactly how she wanted her new room to look – and execute it within hours, flawlessly.  Her childhood hobby had fully bloomed into an adult sized admiration – and she was exceptional at it.  Nevertheless, what she truly loved the most – was somehow what she was doing the least…

Have you spent recent hours working in one place, but daydreaming about what you’d really like to do somewhere else?  Are you one of millions whose thoughts often lead them to what they wish they could do – if they only had more time?

Make the time!  To write your book; pen your poetry; make your music; design your app… Whatever it is that you perhaps started long ago and no longer watch the embers glow – or maybe you never blew on the flame – it’s time to rekindle it!

It’s not so late in the year that you can’t make a Spring Resolution.  Spring into action – and pursue what you really love!  Quit your job?  Not necessarily.  Never make life changing decisions on the spur of the moment or as a good friend once told me, under duress.

I say nurture your natural gift and desire to choose to do that which is fulfilling… And if it just so happens to be profitable – with benefits that outweigh the liabilities – then perhaps you should consider making a career change!

Now I will say that I’ve had some readers who expressed they are not necessarily in need of career movement, but they are still repressing a desire to delve into something they’d love to do, but haven’t.  And to them I say, “What are you waiting for?”

Life can throw us a few unexpected curves.  Sometimes, it’s wise to table things that need our full attention for the sake of greater priorities.  However, we can place obstacles in our own path in the name of procrastination, failure to follow through, or strangely – even fear of success.

I’m reminded of a song I heard on the radio yesterday on the way home from church.  Tickling my fancy, I realized that the commercially professional debut I was listening to I first heard and saw on FaceBook – as an uploaded video, beautifully recorded acapella – in the artist’s bathroom.

In one of my earliest conversations with Erica Shaw Wiley, she’d expressed that while she wasn’t exactly sure of how her music career would play out, she couldn’t squelch her desire to pursue it 100% any longer.  She’s since received rave reviews, celebrity endorsements, and outpouring support from a growing number of fans – and this is just the beginning.

*           *       *           *          *           *

When I reflected on my co-worker’s condo, I saw something very different than the other guests.  The “S” that branded her work for her was a reminder of her name.  For me it symbolized, Search, Seize and Savor.  Search for whatever it is that fills your heart with satisfaction on end, and seize the opportunities to throw yourself into it!

You should wake up in the morning, fanatical about the day ahead – because you know what you’ll do is something that you love – like Bakers Lane owner Tiffany Bell, whose hobby has now transformed into her profitable culinary delight.  With every miniature milestone and actualized achievement, you should relish the fact that you are doing what you do best.  Savor it.  It’s yours!  And the world around you will know you’re the best person for the job.

Time’s a wastin’.  #pursueyourpassion, #catchyourdreams, #bethe1, #seizetheday

Caption:  A simple reminder that seizing the day yields the best satisfaction of all

My Pain, His Providence, My Peace

Love Never Fails

A searing burn charred my heart when I learned that my superhero had fallen from the sky.  Amidst countless gasps of air coupled with painful heaving, I felt absolutely…breathless.  My husband valiantly cradled my collapsed and very pregnant body, fluent in comforting words and encouraging epithets; but, it was a language I couldn’t comprehend.

His admonitions were drowned out by the internal shrieks that were shredding my mind and the audible ones filling my room in my own voice that at the moment, I did not recognize. I crumbled on the floor in pieces.

On so many occasions, I’d consoled friends who had lost the one they loved most with “My condolences” and “sorry for your loss,” and I genuinely was.  Nevertheless, in the thick of my pain I realized that I did not discern the depth of their anguish when that loved one was a cherished parent.

In addition to the countless phone calls received and those that needed to be made, forms to be completed and arrangements to be selected there are also questions to be answered, updates to be given and unanticipated delays paralleled by unresolved matters where time is of the essence. To say that it is overwhelming would be an understatement…and this barely allows moments just for grieving.

The simplest things now seem monumental.  Selecting pictures thrusts me into the throes of agony, relishing the memories I so vividly remember only to feel my heart plummet at the thought that there will be no new memories to create.  I am told the grief will ebb and flow in a cycle of recursive stages and may never end at all (sigh).  I wish it came with warning signs so I could brace myself for impact.  #wishfulthinking.

Even still, in the valley of the darkest place I’ve ever known, one pervading feeling overshadows my most potent pain – love. For every ounce of anxiety, I’ve received a kind word, a warming sentiment or a spiritual lifting.  My faith flourishes with Scriptures that have poured through my phone and devices, championed by friends and family from near and far, spanning the spectrum of youth and wisdom.

I find myself calming in moments of duress.  I am quieted by the peace that transcends my understanding.  The anger and bitterness that was seeping through my soul is replaced with the thankfulness that the illness is gone.  I’m reminded that the One that I love more than anyone else, the One who loves me more than anyone could, the One who will never leave me nor forsake me – is still here – even in my valley…and His love conquers all.

I will never stop missing my superhero or wishing that I couldn’t have one more hug; but, I am elated that I still see his smile.  I feel the grip of his hand and the resonation of the pride in his voice that I am his daughter.  I hear his rich tenor, melodiously singing his favorite songs, and I don’t need a photograph to capture his essence.  His soul may have passed into eternity, but his spirit will strive with me forever.

I love you, Dad.

#heartbrokenbuthealing, #pursuingmypassionforyou, #yourethe1, #withmeforever

Caption:  What He reminds me never to forget…

Live, Leverage, and Learn…

Pursue the Possibiltiies

As I sauntered across the brisk, brightened lawn I was mesmerized by the light show that had been so meticulously designed for me and countless other observers.  The enormous tree was strewn with lights that looked like falling rain, so replete with luminescence that the house behind became hidden.  I admit, I wanted to pretend I was eight and run underneath the branches, swinging my hands between the dangling bulbs, pretending that I was in some type of fantasy land.

Like others, we took our share of various pictures, boys with mom,  boys with dad, and we forbade the children from running under so as not to disturb the perfection of the moment for other visitors to follow; but, my most memorable picture came as I walked the farthest away preparing for my departure.  When I turned around and saw the darkened shadows against the incessant brilliance of the lights, I was compelled to take out my trusty camera.  It occurred to me that the picture would capture my first epiphany for the new year.

So often, our lives can be quickly overwhelmed with issues or obstacles that we didn’t anticipate.   Like massive trees with heavily laden branches they can seem to be fixtures in our lives – difficult relationships, troubled finances, confusing situations, lingering ailments, or sometimes just perplexing decisions.  However, when I reflect on my own challenges from the outgoing year, I can’t help noting that some of my most agonizing dilemmas gave way to many of the brightest moments of my life.

Difficult relationships led to new bonds with old friends.  Financial conundrums paved roads for fortified decisions that I would not have considered had I not had the then unwelcome hiccups.  Confusing situations mandated that I take a necessary step back – to focus, question, and clarify.  I was unwillingly initially of course; but, when I did, my future seemed incessantly lit with possibilities.  I later became thankful for all of the insight that came with those heavy boughs of burdens.

If you’re anything like me (or perhaps know someone who is), you join the millions of people who make promises to themselves to be, do, and live better at the onset of the new year.  I love New Year’s Resolutions, but as I’ve become more “vintage” (because I’m clearly not getting old [smile]), I find myself beginning those resolutions towards the end of the outgoing year.  I consider what was successful and what went awry, but I endeavor not only to learn from my life, but the lives of others.

I have a renewed interest in health – not just physically, but spiritually, mentally and emotionally, financially, and professionally.  Often, I think we target a single area assuming that we can’t address multiple areas of our life.  I contend that we can.  Noting the many lives lost of those I’ve known and those I didn’t, I’m constantly reminded our lives are short and our moments are precious.

What is my sage advice for everyone?  Live well, with every fiber of your being!  Take care of yourself from the inside out!  Leverage the knowledge you gain, whether with family, friends, or formidable foes because everything that happens in life is purposeful.  Finally, learn from your lessons.  They extend far beyond the realm of academia.  If you think about them conscientiously, you’ll realize their benefits with greater ease.

You owe it to yourself and those you love to maximize the opportunities you’re so often presented.  Pay attention to the gems that are awaiting your arrival.  I have my eye on quite a few treasures, and most of them can’t be held in your hand.

#preparingtocontinuepursuitofmypassion, #catchyourdreams, #betheone, #happynewyear, #staytuned, #whatswaitingforyou

Caption:  The lights that lit my fire again.

“I Speak Human” – I. J. Brown

icopportunities

As I woke up to news of yet another shooting tragedy, I let out a long and pained sigh.  I pride myself in writing about chipper things and look for pleasant sources of inspiration – but, today, I saw media saturated with sadness, anguish, confusion, despair.  Can’t say that’s what I wanted for breakfast.

Nevertheless, you know we do have to talk about those elephants every so often.  I’m still a pretty positive chick, so I first decided to scroll through my pics.  Interestingly, I’d forgotten about this one from last week.  And then, even amidst feeling distraught, I felt a smile ebbing across my face…but not without a few sobering conclusions.

So I took my three boys to the public library, 8, 10, and 2.  The 10 yr. old, my avid reader, gobbles up books in the 600 pgs. realm.  My 8 yr old has discovered the joy of chapter books.  The last time I took my 2 yr. old to the library, he was a bit smaller and had no idea where he was.  But on this day, he was fueled, fast, and furious!

He’s been in school.  So he knows what books are.  He is reading – according to us.  Pictures, which counts.  I’m sure…I’m a teacher (smile).  But he made me nervous.  When he zoomed to the kid’s section, he first ran to a stranger.  He’s so quick, I didn’t catch him in time.

My thinking, adversely impacted by all of the swirling things I’ve heard about race combined with my own experiences made me tense up a bit.  I thought, “Oh God, he’s bothering them.  I hope they don’t get the wrong idea.  I hope he doesn’t do anything to that little girl, he’s so rough.  They’re white.  I hope she’s not offended.

Can I be honest?  I was afraid.  Like so many, I’ve had my share of bad experiences.  Some, I’d really like to forget.  But I’ve had some good experiences, too.  And this was one of them.  Isaiah figured out, that this lady (whose name I don’t remember) was reading.  He ran over to a shelf, deeming himself a helpful assistant, and brought another book for her to share.  Her daughter, who I learned was 1, was receptive to the kindness of this stranger.  I realized…it was because he spoke human.

I’d be remiss to say every experience is like this, but I do wish it was.  Bereft of the strife-filled recollections that I’ve encountered over the years, he didn’t see color; he didn’t see gender; he didn’t see age; he saw – people.  People who were reading.  People who were doing something that he’d like to do.  He saw – an opportunity – to share; befriend; to smile.  Don’t you wish we saw things like this…all the time?

Now I know the concept of children being color blind is not a new thing.  Actually, that’s not my focal point.  It’s something else that I noticed about kids, which many of us are aware of, but perhaps don’t talk about enough.  Whether our kids think like this really depends on what they’re taught…wait for it…by the adults.  These angry grown ups – of all colors – that stir up a visceral hatred – didn’t morph overnight into intolerant men and women.  These ideas were taught, bred, ingrained, seared.

My question for you is, what are you growing in the children you’re impacting every day?  Whether parent or non-?  Because they hear what you say, but they see who you are.  I must say, I was relieved by Isaiah’s act of generosity.  When I saw that the stranger wasn’t taken aback, but laughed, I felt o.k. approaching her.

I apologized for his interruption, which she found quite welcoming.  She was new to the city and happy for some company.  They later crashed the bean-bag section, her 1 and my 3, and I still cringed a little bit – because my boys are rough.  Turns out, she had a pretty tough kid herself!  They all had a blast.

Food for Thought:  So often, we bring our hang-ups into neutral situations, assuming the worst.  On countless occasions, we should leave our biases out the door.  Reality says, not every experience will be a positive one, because far too many have deepened hatred.  However, as we pride ourselves in our cultural differences, let’s not forget to celebrate our oneness.  I think we all still bleed the same blood.  Let’s not speak hate.  Let’s speak human…and teach the language to mastery…

#ispeakhuman, #kidscwhatwedont, #pursueyourpassion, #catchthedreamsofequality, #bethe1whomakesadifference, #thanksisaiah

Picture:  Isaiah sharing one of the greatest gifts discovered by moms and teachers everywhere….a book.